You’ve got a name, a logo, a whole host of products that can save your customers time/money/effort— you’re ready to take on the world! Except no one knows you exist.
This is a symptom of poor brand awareness. Brand awareness can be broken down into two separate facets: brand recall and brand recognition. Brand recognition is a customer being able to see your logo or hear your name and remember both it and what you do (Oh, risual? Yeah, I know them! They do Microsoft solutions and Apprenticeships and more!). Brand recall is a customer being able to pull your company out of their nebulous memories when they are looking for a business that does a specific thing. (Hmm, what organisation do I know that can help optimise our cloud usage? Ah, risual!) Obviously, having solid brand awareness is a vital part of marketing your business, but how do you get there?
Storytelling has been a favourite buzz word in marketing circles for the past few years now. It sounds like it could be condescending, but the truth is, it’s all about giving your company a human touch and some narrative flow. Too buzz word-y still? Let’s break that down then. The reason that we talk about stories in marketing and around branding is because that is what people remember. You remember that company that a couple of friends who wanted to solve a problem started while they were living in a terrible flat and eating pot noodles. Or the woman who had one too many bad experiences and decided to do it better! Sure, these examples are a bit generic. But you’re already endeared to them. You want to know more. Did she do it better? Have those friends moved? What flavor pot noodles? You know that there are actual human beings involved and that there is more to find out. Storytelling ignites curiosity and is a surefire way to make your company memorable.
#2 Be the Expert
Naturally, we all like to believe that we are experts in our fields, but are we acting like it? When you think of a go-to brand for, say, adventure wear, do you have a company in mind? There are several out there and even several well-known brand names. So why do you keep going back to the one you use? Because they know their stuff. They know what weird, niche outdoor sport you’re into, what level you’re at and, most importantly, what gear you actually need and what’s all hype. These are the people you trust. So, how do you prove that you’re expert material? Always be providing value, giving the customer insights and information. (And don’t be stingy with what you share!) Which takes us smoothly onto #3.
#3 Up Your Social Game
How’s your social media profile looking? What content are you producing? Do you use the same logo across the board? What tags and how many are you using? If you are doing the bare bones of social media, you are missing out. Most of you will recognise that trust is a vital part of the customer-company relationship, but you may not realise just how valuable it can be. Building trust early means that your insights and opinions will carry weight with the customer, leading to you being their go-to source for information. More than ever, customers want to see you and want to feel like they know who you are—and social media is the perfect platform for that. With Behind-the-Scenes glimpses, office updates, and relatable content, your customers come to know your business as a human entity that it can trust to both tell them the truth and treat them like human beings in return. So, what does that mean? It means that when you do start sharing those great insights, your customer base is already primed to listen and be excited for what you have to say!
#4 Elevate Employees to Brand Ambassadors
When we talk about humanising your business, it’s impossible not to talk about the most important factor: the actual human element. Your employees are invaluable—you know that and they, hopefully, feel the same about you and your company. And that’s where the real magic happens. An employee who loves your business and your brand can be lifted up even further to a level known as a Brand Ambassador. Brand Ambassadors are those employees whose personal values align so strongly with your business values that they exemplify them without even thinking about it: they laud the amazing work that you do and the culture you’ve built, they absolutely bleed your company colours. These employees are the ones who will do your brand the most good. They won’t stop talking about your company, they genuinely believe in what you do, and they will be your company’s number one wing man person. Nothing says trustworthy like happy employees!
#5 Be Authentic
And now the caveat. The four tips you’ve read up until now will absolutely work for you. On one condition: you have to be authentic. It’s no use having a Brand Ambassador who is disingenuous; your customers can tell the difference! And trying to come across as a culture your company doesn’t really have? That will read as false and a poor attempt at manipulation. So stay authentic. Lean into whatever your schtick is! On social media, if your company culture is quite serious and down to earth, avoid a social presence that regularly cracks jokes and posts pictures of cats. Meanwhile, if your culture is more relaxed, try not to get too wrapped up in posting facts and news articles. Find the balance that fits you and make it consistent. That’s the number one show of authenticity. If you really mean it, you shouldn’t have a problem showing your company off in the same light regardless of platform.
And that’s it! It’s pretty simple, actually. How do you build a human-centric branding approach? Focus on humans: elevate your brand by paying attention to your stories, your customers, and your employees, share that information and culture on social, bring your customers what they want, and, above all, mean every word you say!